Friday, 19 September 2014

Stressed out cats

Never mind the emotional stresses we humans have to contend with, it seems that cats are also increasingly stressed out. But we may not notice because unlike dogs they don't get aggressive when they're under stress, they just get withdrawn.

To me, cats always seem enviably placid and imperturbable, quite indifferent to what's going on around them and absorbed in their mysterious feline ruminations. But obviously I'm mistaken and they aren't nearly as placid as I imagine.

No doubt the cat-owners among you could easily have enlightened me (and will of course confirm what follows).

According to cat experts Pippa Hutchison and John Bradshaw, cats show their stress in subtle ways like sleeping under the bed, over-grooming and scratching.

Contrary to popular belief, many cats don't like going outdoors and feel much safer staying inside. They can be quite scared of sharing territory with the local cats, especially ones that don't want other cats on their patch. Unlike dogs and humans, they're not naturally sociable.

In the rest of Europe, where many people live in flats, cats are more commonly kept indoors and it doesn't seem to do them any harm.

Cats can find any number of things stressful - a new baby, a new home, the death of another pet, visitors, loud noises, traffic, travel, confinement, strange odours, or even a new type of cat litter. They may be spooked just by another cat looking at them from a neighbouring wall. The most "laid back" cats can become stressed, despite being outwardly calm.

Some experts recommend a special "cat room" or hiding place, out of bounds to dogs and children, where a cat can retreat if it feels the need.

I can understand the feline tendency to withdraw. My response to stress is much the same - I withdraw rather than getting aggressive, and wait for things to get calmer. I don't tend to over-groom or sleep under the bed though.

21 comments:

John Gray said...

If you have a stressed cat buy a friendly dog
That's all I have to say on the matter

Nick said...

John: With your vast menagerie, your advice is worth listening to.

susie said...

Hi Nick, I've never owned a cat but enjoyed the post.

Actually I had a stray kitten for a week or so...I don't remember what happened with that.

Parents are dog people.

Bijoux said...

I've always found cats to be creepy, the way they sneak up on people. They stress me out,

Nick said...

Susie: Parents are dog people? Not round here, they aren't, there are plenty of cats.

Bijoux: I've never heard that before. But I can see how you might be disturbed by their sneakiness!

Secret Agent Woman said...

I'm allergic to cats, but love them. I like their independence and their sometimes downright silliness. My only gripe about them is that they kill songbirds. I've toyed with the idea of getting a cat, but have vowed not to have any pet for a year.

Nick said...

Agent: A shame you're allergic to cats, especially if they're all over you hoping to be fondled! I didn't realise they were usually such shy creatures. So you're thinking of a pet other than a cat?

CheerfulMonk said...

My daughter used to have two cats. They were easily stressed and hide under the bed whenever company came. They also hated traveling.

Nick said...

Jean: Well, there you are then. I hope the visitors didn't try to winkle them out to say hello.

Grannymar said...

I am not a cat person and cannot stand them rubbing against my legs or jumping on my knees when I sit down. Why do they insist on doing that?

Nick said...

Grannymar: I also find that irritating. I know they're just looking for some affection but it's very annoying if I'm trying to concentrate on something else at the time. And they won't respond to hints that I'm otherwise occupied!

Wisewebwoman said...

The cats I had in the past were 'canined' i.e. they had our dogs preceding them into the domestic scene so went for walks and frolicked outdoors and slept with the dogs.

A friend had a psycho cat and I would have had it put out of its misery it was so angry and aggressive.

XO
WWW

Nick said...

www: That's good that they got on so well with the dogs. Some cats aren't so adaptable. I would have felt the same about the psycho cat. We had a very neurotic Scottish terrier when I was young, but the answer to that would have been to remove my father who was the main cause of the neurosis....

Keith said...

My cat gets stressed out sometimes and goes to sleep under the bed, but I do wish she wouldn't drink out of the potty there!

Nick said...

Keith: I don't believe she drinks out of the potty. I think you're pulling my leg.

Keith Smith said...

I am, but she does go under the bed.

Nick said...

Keith: I suspected as much!

Liz Hinds said...

I heard an item on Radio 4 news - the PM programme I think - about cats and stress etc. Fascinating although I think the reasons they mentioned for keeping a cat indoors usually involved living near a busy road.
I'm a withdraw-er too. Much simpler.

Nick said...

Liz: Yes, I read that too. Apart from the fear of other cats, there's the constant danger of being run over. Or even being grabbed by vivisectionists.

bonsaimum said...

Bailey, the staffie, sometimes stresses out Ladybug, the cat. Ladybug retreats to her haven,much to hubby's chagrin, his side of the wardrobe.

Nick said...

Bonsaimum: Hubby's side of the wardrobe? Why there, I wonder? Is it especially dark and invisible and remote?